Channel 4 Random Acts Slate - North East Filmmakers and Artists Selected

Posted: 23rd July 2013

Northern Film & Media, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Channel 4 are pleased to announce the ten artists and filmmakers who have been commissioned to make a slate of ten short films for Channel 4’s Random Acts series. 

Noted for their ‘television as art’, rather than about art approach, Random Acts is a short-form, daily arts strand which showcases bold newly-commissioned expressions of creativity. Random Acts was launched in 2011 and in its first year showcased 260 specially-commissioned short films.

The North East slate of Random Acts will explore are range of creative forms including drama, dance, live action comedy, animation, archive, opera and music. Those commissioned are: 

  • Reuben Jacob Abraham               
  • Maxy Neil Bianco                            
  • Ed Carter                                          
  • Andrew Coats                                  
  • Ian Cottage                                      
  • Michelle Fox
  • Lyn Hagan
  • Ben Jeans Houghton
  • Heather Phillipson
  • Lesley Ann Rose

The aim of the commissions is to produce fresh, strong films which represent the best of North East talent, and drawing on the combined experience of the partners managing the slate, to give creative practitioners in the region a national platform for new work.  

Summary of the films:

Reuben Jacob Abraham (Durham), The Somnambulists, presents various characters at night in Mumbai, India, each unconsciously playing their bit roles in this huge and lonely Gotham-like metropolis. This dusk-to-dawn video inspired by Reuben's memories of growing up in the city looks dark and brooding, but has a frenetic pace cut to progressive house music.

Maxy Neil Bianco (Hartlepool), Pig the Dog, follows a typical day in the lives of the two main characters - Dell, a raggy lad from the wrong side of the tracks, and his dog, Pig, a Staffordshire bull terrier with a special talent.

Ed Carter (Gateshead), The False Lights of Durham is inspired by the intriguing social and architectural history of the county's treacherous coastline, and the tale of unexplained lights that caused so many ships to wreck in the 1860s. The 'false lights' (which officials had controversially blamed on local fishing communities) ended with the construction of the region's electric lighthouses, and this piece draws its syncopated rhythms from the characters of those lighthouses when they were first illuminated.

Andrew Coats (Newcastle), Stupid Cult takes a peek behind the curtain of a very secret society. It’s night-time and an initiation for a mysterious cult is taking place with Ra-The Divine Blacksmith as the master of ceremonies.

Ian Cottage (Newcastle), Spin, a man overwhelmed by work, accidentally makes the world spin out of control.

Michelle Fox (Newcastle), Baby Zominic is a playful dark comedy about the perils of unconditional love. Proud new parents Rachel and Toby share the joys of having a bouncing zombie boy.

Lyn Hagan (Newcastle), Tony and Angela is an animation produced from drawings by a Mexican Mafia hit man called Tony who is currently on Death Row in San Quentin State Prison and is accompanied by a soundtrack composed of sentences taken from letters between Tony and a female Sheriff's Deputy, Angela, who brought him his meals. 

Ben Jeans Houghton (Newcastle), Still Life; A young man makes a person from mud only to find himself unsure of his actions faced with the responsibility of its life.

Heather Phillipson (London), Splashy Phasings; is a plunge into a wet universe, a slippery drama suggesting activities underwater. Intermixing the politics and erotics of water, its consumption, flow and sensations, Splashy Phasings digresses through tsunamis, swimming accoutrements and the body's internal chambers.

Lesley Ann Rose (Newcastle), Spatula head is a short, surreal, stop motion animation film about the misfortunes of a boy who irons his head flat.

Tabitha Jackson, Commissioning Editor, Arts, Channel 4, said: “I'm thrilled to be bringing new voices from the North East to the screen to offer a fresh perspective. We've been consistently impressed with the creative talent that NFM and BALTIC have helped introduce us to. Our partners will use their on-the-ground knowledge to help us deliver on our commitment to out of London commissioning."

Agnes Wilkie, Deputy Director BALTIC, said: “BALTIC’s involvement in C4’s Random Acts marks an exciting new phase in our digital ambitions and creates a fantastic platform for artistic talent to work alongside the very best creative industry practice.  It was a daunting task to choose just ten projects from over 160 applications submitted but we are confident that all of the selected artists and film makers demonstrated the originality, creativity, ambition and passion demanded by such a high profile, national broadcaster.”

John Tulip, Managing Director, Northern Film & Media, said: “I am delighted that our long-standing partnership with Channel 4 has been bolstered by a new collaboration with BALTIC on these sought-after commissions. It’s enabled all of us to engage new seams of creative talent and help create a fantastic opportunity for the region's brightest filmmakers and artists. I’m confident these will be fresh, strong films which will represent the best of North East talent on a national platform.”

The ten projects were selected by: Roxy Bramley (Creative Industries Manager, NFM); Tabitha Jackson (Commissioning Editor, Arts, Channel 4); Laurence Sillars (Chief Curator, BALTIC); and Agnes Wilkie (Deputy Director, BALTIC). The films are now in production, will be completed by September 2013, and are due for broadcast in late 2013/early 2014.

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